Michael Franti: Not your average rocker

“Music has the power to bring people together like no other form.” – Michael Franti

WE ARE LIVING IN A DIVISIVE TIME, so it is uplifting to hear words like this. The internationally acclaimed band Michael Franti & Spearhead will be the headliner at California WorldFest on July 16 at the Nevada County Fairgrounds. Franti and his band, with a style that blends hip hop, funk, reggae, jazz, folk and rock, are visiting Grass Valley as part of the worldwide “Love Out Loud Tour.”

“Now more than ever we need music to remind us how connected we really are,” says Franti, who lives in San Francisco. “Celebrating music from around the globe helps us find optimism, and it’s also a whole lot of fun.”

“His message of love, unity and tolerance is perfectly in line with the festival’s vision,” adds Julie Baker, executive director of The Center for the Arts which organizes WorldFest.

To most of us, the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle would be grueling. But Franti — who loves to walk around barefoot— epitomizes a healthy, laid-back lifestyle and is an outspoken proponent for social justice.

He is a vegan, organic food lover and yoga devotee (dubbed “Rock’s Yoga Master” by Departures magazine). “All of this has led to me feeling happier, healthier, more youthful and more inspired than I ever would have imagined after 25 years on tour,” he recently said.

Inspired by his son, Franti has been a vegetarian since 1997. Franti has been practicing yoga since 2000 and has opened a hotel and yoga retreat oasis on the island of Bali in Indonesia called Soulshine. He also has performed at Wanderlust in Squaw Valley, a popular yoga festival.

Franti has largely gone shoeless since 2000. “I made a decision to go barefoot after playing music for kids in many countries who could not af- ford shoes,” he says. He has partnered with Soles4Souls, a nonprofit that pro- vides shoes for people who don’t have them. The goal is to help break the cycle of poverty, a message he carries in his music.

For more information, visit WorldFest.net.

(Photo: Lauren Dukoff)

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